It’s safe to say that were it not for the slow-turning wheels of government, that transformative project to create a mixed-use, transit-oriented development at Riverside Station would be well underway by now.
The project dates back at least to 2011. It was approved in 2013 but only after it was scaled back to appease neighbors so far that it proved unviable financially.
An even better version from Mark Development surfaced in 2018. But reacting to the predictable neighborhood teeth-grinding, the Fuller administration urged the developer to halt the process, hire a facilitator and engage in a vision planning session.
That put progress on hold for much in 2019. (And, no surprise, by the end of the process opponents were just as unhappy as they were before all the "engagement.")
Sangiolo cites notes from a neighborhood meeting that it will be nine months before Mark could have a shovel in the ground. "This means that there is no start date for the ledge blasting or Hotel Indigo demolition."
The same report suggested that residential units may be developed first, before any lab space, saying “it could take a couple of years for the market for lab to come back so Mark Development is exploring building the residential component of the project first,” even though they believe they have a great location and a strong partner in Alexandria Development.
And it seems fair to worry about the prospects for the Bulfinch Companies' plans to build lab space at the former Muzi Motors site, just down the road on I-95, if efforts by Needham abutters to slow down that project prevails. (The next Planning Board meeting for that project is next week).
These are great projects that would bring world-class employers, good-paying jobs, millions in local taxes and community benefits, and, in the case of Riverside, hundreds of needed homes adjacent to public transit.
And we'd be well on our to realizing those benefits if the wheels of government didn’t move so slowly.
Report warns of increased flooding along the Charles
A new report finds that our communities along the Charles River will experience an appreciable increase in flooding within the next 50 years.
Key infrastructure in Newton, Dedham, Watertown, Waltham, and Wellesley could be especially vulnerable due to climate change and as extreme storms now are expected to become more frequent, according to a Charles River Watershed Association report.
By 2070, a so-called "100-year storm" is four times more likely to happen and at a greater intensity -- with more than 2,600 acres along the Charles River that don’t currently flood would experience flooding, reports WBUR’s Paula Moura, with Needham, Newton, Wellesley, Waltham and Watertown to be most affected.
The risk is also high for more frequent but lower volume storms that occur once every two years: By 2030, those storms could flood 886 acres, 25% more than today’s flooding. And by 2070 those storms could flood 2,733 acres; an area increase of 78%.
The report was funded by a grant to 20 towns along the watershed, from Hopkinton to Watertown
Watertown company gets fed grant
An East Watertown clean tech company has been awarded a $9.75 million federal grant for its efforts to squeeze energy cost savings and carbon out of industrial manufacturing.
Needham’s Annual Blue Tree Lighting will take place this Saturday, Dec. 3 from 5-6 p.m. with a ceremonial lighting of a tree decorated with blue lights on Greene’s Field. As per tradition, Santa will arrive by fire truck, holiday songs will be performed by the Needham High Chorale, and Plugged In Band Program will keep things rollicking.
Puttshack, which bills itself as the world’s first and only upscale, tech-infused mini-golf destination with global food and drink will open next year inside the Natick Mall. The company opened a location in Boston’s Seaport in October. (Framingham Source)
Wellesley’s Planning Director Don McCauley is retiring this month. The town has named senior planner Eric Arbeene interim planning director. (Swellesley Report).
Chamber member Morrissey Market is donating $1 of every order and $15 per produce box to hunger-prevention nonprofit Project Bread. Check out this recent Boston Globe article profiling the online market's evolution through four generations of the family business.
Watertown’s Winter Overnight Parking Ban began Monday. Newton’s ban begins tonight (Dec. 1).
Watertown, Wellesley gain Capital Hill clout
Congresswoman Katherine Clark -- whose 5th Congressional district includes Watertown and a slice of Wellesley -- secured a new role as the whip for U.S. House Democrats yesterday, elevating her to the number-two role in the caucus.
Clark, who is currently assistant speaker, will join Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Congressman Peter Aguilar of California in the House's leadership ranks next session. Clark called her victory as party whip "truly humbling." (State House News)
Select board member won’t seek reelection
Needham Select Board member Matt Borrelli announced last night that he will not seek reelection when his term ends in April.
Borelli has been on the board for 11 years, twice as board chair.
Over those years Needham underwent many changes that greatly enhanced the town's economic vitality and fiscal health, from welcoming the formerly dry town’s first liquor stores to leading the state in welcoming outdoor dining.
He was there for the arrival of TripAdvisor, NBC Universal, and Shark Ninja as well as the building of new police and fire stations, the Sunita Williams School, the Center at the Heights, a new Memorial Park Building, a Rosemary Recreational Complex, rail trails, parks, and playgrounds.
1,600-plus stand up for outdoor dining John Hillard at the Globe reported this week on the chamber’s petition calling on Newton city leaders to enact permanent regulations allowing local restaurants to serve their customers outdoors.
“The petition was all positive, we want to convey to the city that this is a positive thing,” Arpit Patel, owner of Baramor in Newton Centre told Hilliard. “It’s in everyone’s best interest — restaurants, the city, the Newton villages, and the residents.”
Mayor Ruthanne Fuller told the Globe she supported the effort.
“I am 100% supportive of outdoor dining and we’re taking every step locally to make sure we can continue it into the future. Outdoor dining has been wonderful for restaurants, village centers, and diners,” Fuller said.